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Pirate Science. Marine Mammals. The Science of Harry Potter. Those are just some of the hands-on Sally Ride Science workshops that Fallbrook students can attend right in their own community this summer.

The nonprofit Fallbrook School of the Arts is partnering with Sally Ride Science to offer a series of workshops in June in the northern San Diego County community. Fallbrook’s 2018 Middle School STEAM Camp is aimed, in part, at serving students whose schooling is affected because their parents work in agriculture. The camp is funded by the San Diego Migrant Education Program, registration fees and local donors.

The camp is also a pilot for a new initiative by Sally Ride Science to partner with community groups around Southern California in order to reach more students with innovative STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) programs.

Sally Ride Science was cofounded in 2001 by America’s first woman in space to inspire girls and boys of all backgrounds to study science and to imagine themselves in science and technology careers. Today, that mission continues through Sally Ride Science at UC San Diego under the direction of UC San Diego Extension.

Sally Ride Science STEAM workshops are currently offered during the summer Junior Academy in San Diego and all year round in city library branches. But under the model piloted in Fallbrook, other communities will be able to host Sally Ride Science workshops.

“We want to offer new outreach opportunities to provide more students with access to STEAM programs,” said Megan Lancaster, program manager for Extension’s Pre-College and Career Preparation Programs. Potential workshop hosts include traditional schools, charter schools, scout troops, community centers and private groups. “We are open to working with any sort of organization that reaches out to students in the STEAM field,” Lancaster said.

Dr. Edward Abeyta, Extension’s associate dean for community engagement and director of pre-college programs, added, “We’re excited to partner with schools throughout Southern California. UC San Diego is not just an educational resource on the hill, but a public good that should benefit all of our communities.”

The outreach will be focused at first on Southern California, but the eventual goal is to expand nationally, Lancaster said. To find out about bringing Sally Ride Science STEAM workshops to your community, email srs@ucsd.edu

Keeping kids inspired

Jennifer Jeffries, former superintendent of the Fallbrook Union Elementary School District and a board member of the Fallbrook School of the Arts, approached Sally Ride Science about partnering on the 2018 STEAM camp. The School of the Arts had held summer camps in the previous three years using local instructors. The 2018 camp is for students entering sixth and seventh grade in the coming school year.

Jeffries explained the motivation for focusing on that age group. “Kids who are interested in STEAM sometimes get talked out of that in the transition from elementary to middle school,” she said. “So we’re trying to shore that up for them in the summer with high-interest, hands-on, lovely offerings that can inspire and sustain their interest in STEAM subjects. We also send good vibrations about preparing for and going to college.”

Experienced Sally Ride Science instructors will travel to Fallbrook to teach the workshops. The instructors include science educators and academics from Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The STEAM camp consists of three sessions of three days each. Two days of each session feature Sally Ride Science workshops, and one day is a presentation by a reptile biologist. Here’s the lineup of workshops:

  • June 5-7: Marine Mammals and Pirate Science
  • June 12-14: Marine Mammals and Gorging on Geology
  • June 19-21: Science of Harry Potter and Exploring Kelp Forest Ecosystems

For information on fees and registration for the Fallbrook STEAM camp, visit: http://www.fallbrookschoolofthearts.org/index.php/classes-workshops

The workshops are based in part on curriculum developed for the Junior Academy, which was launched in 2016 after Sally Ride Science became part of UC San Diego. The 2018 Junior Academy, from June 25 to July 20 at Mission Bay High School, offers dozens of engaging workshops. For a list of Junior Academy courses, visit: https://sallyridescience.ucsd.edu/junior-academy/